Tu Bi'Shervat, Celebrating the Land of Israel, Eating Fruit, The Tabernacle in Branson, January 2013 Newsletter" />
The Tabernacle Times
April 2013                                   Nissan - Iyyar 5773                                Volume 8 Issue 4

Why Do Not Christians
Count the Omer?

Rabbi & Brenda

By Rabbi Jeremy & Brenda Storch

    You shall count for yourselves -- from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving -- seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days. -Leviticus 23:15-16

You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle is first put to the standing crop shall you begin counting seven weeks. Then you will observe the Festival of Shavu'ot for the LORD, your God. -Deuteronomy 16:9-10
Omer   Holy Spirit to dwell within the disciples and to specifically empower them to begin the mission assigned to them by their Master and Messiah, Yeshua at the end of the book of Matthew.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then

While mainstream Judaism teaches for the most part that the "counting of the omer" begins on Passover, I believe it is more accurate scripturally (see above) the counting of the omer begins on the day of Firstfruits (Heb. "Bikkurim") which is the day after the Sabbath during the week of Passover.  Thus the counting of the omer (Heb. "S'ferat Ha Omer") is a 50 day period between the Feast of Firstfruits and Shavout (Feast of Weeks) which is the anniversary of the giving of the Torah.

The meaning of the Torah for observant Jewish people goes well beyond what the Bible typically means to the Evangelical Church (which is not to say that the church doesn't highly regard the Bible). It's not "just" considered the Word of God. Jews consider the Torah as having a spiritual and mystical "life" beyond the printed word. In a sense, they believe that the world was created for the sake of Torah and that if the Jews had rejected Torah at Sinai, all of Creation would have been undone. Torah is also considered the means by which God created the Universe and everything in it. Torah is the guide to Holy living, the path to wisdom, and the means to draw nearer to God. Torah scholars are considered on a higher spiritual level and closer to the Creator because of their study, and Torah study and worship of God are considered the same thing.

I'm providing this context to communicate the incredible importance that the giving of the Torah has to the Jewish people. That means the Counting of Omer is a time of tremendous anticipation. It's like knowing the most important event in your life will happen 50 days from now. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event that will change you forever. Naturally, during that 50 days, it will be all you can think and talk about, and it stands to reason you'd want to spend those 50 days getting as ready as possible for this exceptionally important moment.

That's what the Counting of the Omer is. A period of intense preparation for an encounter with God. It's a countdown to the day when you will receive the most important gift in the world from the Creator of the world. But what does this have to do with Christianity?
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (languages) as the Spirit enabled them. -Acts 2:1-4 (NIV)

The festival of Shavu'ot arrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh and began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. -Acts 2:1-4 (CJB)
  Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

The events in Matthew 28 and Acts 2 go hand in hand. Matthew 28 defines the assignment and Acts 2 provides the tools to accomplish the assignment. It wasn't that the Holy Spirit didn't connect to faithful and righteous people before that time. After all, consider the Prophets and, at the end of Exodus when the Shekinah; the Glory of God, descends onto and into the Tabernacle in the desert, the Talmud states that at that moment, each Jew was to consider that a small piece of the Shekinah was dwelling in their individual hearts. I know that Christianity makes a distinction between the Spirit dwelling "on" vs. "in", but why would God do that? The Spirit is the Spirit. Why would all righteous people be considered "second hand (spiritual) citizens" prior to the coming of the Messiah?

The other and primary connection that needs to be understood is the link between Exodus 20 and Acts 2; the giving of Torah and the giving of the Spirit. I don't believe that, in a created universe, there is such a thing as coincidence; certainly not on the level of Shavuot and Pentecost "just happening" to be on the same day. Therefore, it fulfills the plan of God that these two events be connected. On a larger stage, perhaps the giving of the Spirit enables us to fully implement, not only the Matthew 28 directive, but the Torah as well.

Does that mean, in essence, these two events are the same event? If so, or at least if they are intimately connected, it has incredible implications in the life of every believer in Yeshua (that is, the life of every Christian). What would have been assumed by the Jewish Disciples is considered revolutionary to we 21st Century Gentile believers. 1st Century Jews wouldn't have batted an eye at the thought of obeying the Torah commands. They were taught this from childhood. If the Spirit enabled them to more completely obey the commands of God and "The Great Commission" as it is called by the Church, then so much the better. But what about us?

If the Spirit enables the modern Church to continue the commandment of Jesus to "go and make disciples of all nations", that's completely acceptable and understood (as long as you understand that the terms "convert" and disciple" aren't synonyms). However, understanding that these two events and concepts are also fused with the giving of Torah at Sinai and the enabling to "keep Torah", is likely a stunning revelation to a non-Jewish believing audience. There is much debate over how a Gentile disciple of the Master is to "keep the Torah" vs. the obligation of the Jewish people to the commandments, but given the undeniable link between Shavuot and Pentecost, I can't see any reason why a Christian shouldn't count the Omer.

In other words, given all of my prior statements about why it is so important for observant Jews, to

What the Church calls Pentecost and considers the anniversary of the giving to the Holy Spirit to the disciples in Jerusalem, Judaism calls Shavuot and considers the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai; but they're the same day. A too casual reading of Acts 2 might cause us to forget a few things. First of all, the Disciples were all Jewish, so it makes a huge amount of sense that they'd be celebrating the Biblical festivals, including Shavuot. They'd be gathered together in fact because of Shavuot, in remembrance of that day and in obedience to the commandments.

What the Church calls Pentecost and considers the anniversary of the giving to the Holy Spirit to the disciples in Jerusalem, Judaism calls Shavuot and considers the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai; but they're the same day. A too casual reading of Acts 2 might cause us to forget a few things. First of all, the Disciples were all Jewish, so it makes a huge amount of sense that they'd be celebrating the Biblical festivals, including Shavuot. They'd be gathered together in fact because of Shavuot, in remembrance of that
  Omer 2

Omer 3
this day, to count the Omer, and prepare themselves for a "close encounter" with God, if Christians believe that the giving of the Spirit is also a "close encounter", then why not count the Omer, too?

It seems like Evangelical Christians are really missing out on something special. I think it's part of why we Gentiles who are attached to the "Messianic movement" do what we do. The living out of the Biblical festivals has not just ancient, but modern applications as well. Hopefully this modest
day and in obedience to the commandments.

Also in obedience of the commandments, the Disciples would have been counting the Omer, just as their forefathers had done for thousands of years. The crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) on the threshold of Passover and his subsequent resurrection and ascension wouldn't have done anything to change that. Certainly, there's nothing in the Bible that records Yeshua saying to not count the Omer that year and that "all bets were off", so to speak.

So here you have a group of Jews, who have come to faith in Yeshua as the risen Messiah. They have gone through 49 days of counting, and are now gathered together for the festival of Shavuot, commemorating the giving of the Torah. The giving of Torah is the most important and binding event in the lives of every Jew in existence, past, present, and future (it was the reason why Acts 2 records that there were Jews in Jerusalem from all over the diaspora, and why they understood the disciples when they were speaking in different languages; the languages of the nations they lived in). With the stage set, God does something incredible; He gives another gift, this time, the

  article has brought a few of those applications out into the open. Pentecost didn't "replace" Shavuot, nor did the Spirit replace the Torah. The Spirit is God dwelling within us and the Torah is God's practical and mystical guide to Biblical wisdom and righteous living. We are told that the Word (or Torah) is written on our hearts, which makes the Spirit and Torah more closely linked than we may imagine.

If the Children of Israel in Exodus already understood that connection, no wonder Jews, even today, are so in awe of the Torah and of God. They count the Omer with a sense of anticipation and wonder at the immense graciousness and kindness of God. Gentile believers need to recapture that sense of awe of God and what He has given us. One way to do that, is to count the Omer and to eagerly look forward to that encounter.

Remember, there's a final anticipated meeting that is yet to arrive. He's coming. He one who is testifying to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon! Amen! Come, Lord Yeshua! May the grace of the Lord Yeshua be with all! -Revelation 22:20-21 (CJB)

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